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tv   Acting TSA Administrator Testifies on Agency Budget Operations  CSPAN  May 5, 2021 10:06am-11:34am EDT

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we have done it, is because of the remarkable men and women in the department of homeland security, and the border patrol, in your citizenship and immigration services, the federal emergency management agency, all of whom have dedicated their skill and commitment to service to achieve this. along with our partners in the department of health and human services and across the federal government. because president biden directed all of government focus and effort in this regard to address the needs of unaccompanied children. it is because of his leadership. >> thank you very -- >> if i may. >> sure. >> the families that we are reuniting today -- >> this entire thing is available online at c-span.org.
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will have to leave it here to take you live now to fund acting transportation security administration had testifying today on the 2022 budget request for that agency. this is the house appropriations committee something security subcommittee. >> inadvertent background noise, that share our staff designated by the chair -- microphones will be not recognized to speak. if there's a technology issue during a members speaking time will move to the next member until the issue resolved and you will retain the balance of your time. we will be following the five-minute rule with one minute remaining and your time the clock on the screen will turn yellow. when your time has expired a clock will turn red and it will be time to recognize the next member. we will follow the speaking order set forth in the house rules beginning with the chair and ranking member followed by members present at the time the hearing is called to order. in order of seniority and we will alternate by party.
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next will go to members who were not present when hearing was called to order until every member present has had a first round. as as a reminder members can st information in writing related to the hearing through the e-mail address provided in advance to your staff for that purpose. now let's begin. i welcome darby lajoye, the senior official perform the duties of the administrative at the transportation security administration who is here to discuss tsa's operations both during the pandemic and as we look forward to moving past it. members of the public likely interact with tsa and its employees more than any other component of the department of homeland security, or any other federal department or agency. this interaction has become much more challenging during the pandemic. while air travelers may not always express their gratitude during the passenger screening
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process, what tsa and its employees due to protect our nation is greatly appreciated. tsa personnel work on the front lines at great personal risk to ensure the safety of air travel. in fact, 16 tsl personal have passed away after contracting covid-19 while performing their duty. mr. lajoye, on behalf of the subcommittee i expand sincere condolences to the families and colleagues of those up lost their life. i also reaffirm our continued support and appreciation for your workforce. we look forward to your candid and comprehensive assessment of how covid has impacted tsa submission performance, and what challenges you foresee for the agency as air travel hopefully begins to return to a more normal pattern.
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we also want to hear details on the deployment of advanced security technology, workforce, paid initiative, and how you are executing your fiscal year 2021 funding. i know that you are limited in sharing details about tsa's budget request for the coming year, but hope we can still have a fulsome conversation about your priorities looking ahead. i would now like to turn to the distinguished gentleman from tennessee, ranking member fleischmann, for his opening remarks. >> thank you, madam chairwoman. mr. lajoye, thank you for coming to testify before the homeland security subcommittee today to discuss covid implications on tsa's budget and operations. i know you have been very busy stepping in for mr. pesco over the less yemen human savao start by saying thank you for all that you have done and all that you are doing and you doing
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an admirable job, sir. >> speaking of doing an admirable job, i know i mentioned this to you during a recent discussion i just want to say for the record how great the officers have been in the chattanooga airport. i take pride in being the ranking member of the subcommittee so i enjoy getting to see firsthand the great work than men and women in chattanooga are doing at airports across the country who work validly to protect our nation's travelers. so please pass on my many thanks to them. please also pass on my condolences to the family of tso race where he just passed away last week while performing his duties in the chattanooga airport. tsa employees are some of the only dhs employees that many americans come face-to-face with on a regular basis, and then represented both you and the department well during these
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difficult times, maintaining the steadfast approach to keep this country safe despite the challenges that this pandemic as thrust upon them. and they have done so knowing full well the risks that the coronavirus present, so please pass on my thanks to your entire workforce and my most heartfelt condolences to the family of the 16 tsa employees who are tragically died from contracting covid-19 while bravely protecting this nation. despite the pandemic and considering the overwhelming risk, i am pleased with the efforts tsa took to protect both its frontline workforce and the traveling public through the expansion of ppe use, protective barriers, and regular cleaning as well as leading the charge on reducing the number of touch points and interactions between passengers and tsa screeners. the expansion of the credential authorization technology and
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computed programs they came from additional funds in the fiscal 2021 appropriation was almost persistent in these challenging times, and i'm excited to see both of these programs work to employ -- countless security environments. thank you, mr. lajoye, and i look forward to today's discussion on how we can better support tsa through covid and beyond. madam chair, i yield back and i think you. >> thank you. mr. lajoye, -- official statement for the hearing record. these begin your oral summary which i would ask you to keep to five minutes. >> good morning, chairwoman roybal-allard, ranking member fleischmann and establishment of the subcommittee. i am honored to appear before you today to discuss tsa's response to the covid-19 pandemic, share highlights from fiscal '21, and provide a glimpse of the president's fy '22 discretionary request.
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like all of us tsa faced tremendous challenges over the past year with the ongoing global pandemic. air travel came to a near standstill and operational agility, the resilience of our workforce and the strength of our partnerships were tested like never before. i am incredibly proud of of y we've adapted to these unprecedented challenges and position are agency for the future. even to the darkest times of the pandemic we never wavered from our solemn commitment of protecting the nation's transportation system and ensuring the freedom of movement of people and commerce. from the very beginning tsa place the highest for you on the health and safety of our employees and that of the traveling public. we moved quickly to implement protective measures as he could check points and screening locations across the country, thanks in part to generous support in past fiscal years and from the cares act. we enforced social distancing at
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our checkpoints, install plastic shielding to minimize personal contact, increased efforts and required offices to wear face masks, gloves, eye protection or face shields. our workforce also took direct and meaningful action to supplement the worldwide pandemic response if we help repatriate over 100,000 n citizens stranded across the globe and facilitate the distribution of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies such as innovators around the world. our partners also contributed greatly to our response efforts. we work closely with industry and government colleagues on plans to mitigate the risk of covid-19 and received great support from stakeholders as implemented the orders required travelers to wear face masks across all transportation systems. as i said a moment ago the health and safety of the tsa workforce was always top of mind. we use our personal
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flexibilities to offer new leave options for employees at high risk of severe illness from exposure to the virus, , and maximize telework and flexible scheduling options whenever possible. and we were at the forefront and provide accelerated vaccine access to dhs operation or vaccinate our workforce. we had many successes come back remains we've gone through a great national trauma and have all expense heartbreaking losses. thousands of tsa employees contracted covid-19 and 16 employees and one screen a contractor sadly passed away from the effects of the virus. my most sincere condolences go to their families, friends and peers for the loss. the heartfelt letters this subcommittee sent to those milfs who passed away were greatly appreciated by the entire tsa workforce. before i continue to want to take a moment to thank our workforce, our tsa officers come federal air marshals, k-9 teams,
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inspectors, aviation personal, cargo personnel and are betting staffs as well as our representatives and indices around the world and every single support personnel sit behind them. to every single person i am proud of their continue resilience and professionalism. i also want to thank the subcommittee and congress for your support year after year including in fiscal year 21 with generous appropriation of 144.2 million above the previous year. we are putting these times to good use and they're helping us advance our security priorities including the deployment of computed tomography and authentication technology. these technologies are critical because they in hansard detection capability of the checkpoint of about a touchless screening process. because the reduction of air travel were able to deploy these technologies faster than expected. i am pleased to announce we've now deployed over 300 ct systems
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of 142 locations. in fiscal 21 will execute the next phase of our ct deployment in the procurement of 242 additional midsized systems. tsa has also the .1053 cat units at 121 locations today we are planning to procure 1001 additional units in fiscal '21. we believe cat is a game changing textiles that provide a secure more touchless and seamless customer experience and we're working to ensure that every federal airport from our largest to our smalls will receive it soon. we are always focus on leveraging the best techno to improve security and reduce touch points throughout the travel experience. currently we are evaluating biometric technology and monitoring the evolution of digital credentials at mobile driver's licenses and digital passports and how we might accept them into airport environment. while technology is one of the key for our success, so to rt
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essays people. i am honored to serve with a dedicated workforce and remain committed to supporting them and investing in their success. tsa relates committed to fostering a fair and equitable workplace and promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels. we are at our best when our employees feel valued and to fully engage to achieve our mission. issue we've taken our investment and a workforce to another level with incentives like tso service packs can career progression and a model officer recognition program. these incentives are designed to both retain dedicated skilled workers and attract talented new recruits. in addition to investing in our workforce where using the skull 21 funds to recruit and hire talented, transportation skewed officers in your own states, districts and towns. focused recruitment and at which will help us fill these important roles and many others. filling these jobs is a priority as travel volume continues to
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climb and we continue to face a determined enemy. before i close want to address reports you may have seen about increases in firearms detected at checkpoints nationwide. even with a substantial decrease in volume in 2020, officers detected twice as many firearms per million passengers and in 2019 and, unfortunately, the vast majority of these weapons were fully loaded. we are working to address this on one increase through, our regulatory enforcement and by helping educate the public and how to properly travel a firearm in checked baggage. as you know the administration is released a preview of the discretion and request for fiscal 22. it provides 52 billion for dhs which is approximately equal to the fiscal '21 enacted level to continue to protect the american people. the request also further supports work in key areas like research, innovation and transportation security technologies. i look forward to further discussions with you on fiscal
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22 after the president transmits the full budget to the congress. tsa continues the global leader in security and continues to adapt to ever evolving challenges. as we emerge from covid-19 pandemic and approached the 20th anniversary of september 11, tsa stands for in our resolve to protect the nation's transportation systems. chairwoman roybal-allard, ranking member fleischmann and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. i look forward to your question questions. >> thank you, mr. lajoye. mr. lajoye, daily airport passenger volume is 50% of 2019 levels but it is also ten times greater than it was at this time last year, and the steady the se increases projected through the summer. we have heard concerns about whether tsa will have sufficient staffing due to this increased
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volume as well as fully onboarding challenges as result of our hiring freeze and the pandemic. this has raise questions that tsa readiness to support commercial air traffic transportation systems without modifying passenger screening protocol and compromising public safety. does tsa have sufficient staffing as passenger volume continues to increase, and how are we really sure no modification of procedures or threat detection capabilities will pose risk to passengers security? >> thank you, thank you for the question. what i want to say to the subcommittee is about this pandemic never once did we sacrifice security at any of the changes made to our procedures. that was something we established very, very early on that no matter what we are not come to sacrifice our security mission and about as the summer volume increases. we have been faced with a number of the same challenges that many
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other companies face in trying to attract talent, especially in light of the pandemic. for a number of months we were challenged to bring -- to bring people into large rooms to do assessments. i'm happy to report that in the last 120 days since january we have hired approximately 2500 officers and we anticipate over the next eight weeks hiring another 1600 more. if you compare that from the staffing level to volume, we are about where we were in 2019. but again one of the things we've also realized during this pandemic is that once we hit that high watermark, we don't receive much from there. so we will be extending our high through the summer because as you pointed out we do expect volume to continued increase even as we get out of the summer and closer into holidays. we want to make sure we continue
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to hire through the summer and into early fall that we position for the next holiday season and also into next summer as well. >> you talk a little bit about this in your opening statement, about the steps that were taken to protect your workforce and the traveling public from covid-19. how will those efforts change over the coming months as both the number of passengers and vaccination level increase, while at the same time we know not every passenger will have been vaccinated? >> well again, madam chair, one of the things from the very beginning we followed the signs and we listened to our chief medical officer. we put in place, you know, the nation's that were advice from the cdc and former chief medical officer are the things you put in place to protect the workforce. so very, very early on even before we had dedicated sort of ppe supply lines, we had
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voluntary for employees to wear surgical masks. once we didn't dedicate supplies come in surgical masks it became a requirement for tsa officers to wear surgical masks. following city became a requirement that they wear e protection to include face shields if they were not standing behind the plexiglas shield and that you seem some airports today. that remains the requirement today. i'm also happy to report that as i am sitting here, 60% of tsa employees have received their first shot and 40% have been fully vaccinated. the priority of the department has place on vaccinating our workforce, it really has been a game changer from where we were several months ago. so we continue to emphasize the importance to our workforce and going and getting the vaccine, and i'm very confident that at this point any tsa employee who desires to go get the vaccine
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has ability to do so. >> okay. last question before my time is up. as new technologies and protocols are implemented to prevent the spread of covid-19, what changes to passenger screening should travelers expect? >> some of these we have already announced. passengers are going to be able to carry larger quantities of hand sanitizer through the checkpoint. that something very early on we made the decision to do. we think it's the best thing from a public health perspective that in no way results in ina security concern from our perspective. we also, using cat, and cat technology is a key piece of enabling technology because it really does promote a more touches and five the passengers cannot take their own mobile device placed on top of the cat machine. they can insert their own driver's license. so they're going to much less contact with tsa employees.
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and as we begin to further deploy computed tomography, passengers will realize a much more seamless, much more touchless travel experience as it into our checkpoints today. they are still going to encounter tsa officers who will be wearing a surgical mask. they are still going to encounter a checkpoint where there may be various locations either staying behind plexiglas shielding. airport partners have done a fantastic job at helping remote -- the extent that we can, so it really is important for passengers as we get closer to summer to go to tsa.gov, check with the airline because for the last year many people have not been traveling. they may, in fact, experience some differences in the travel experience. and just as volume is returning, we also think passenger wait times are going to return to pre-pandemic levels. we certainly encourage the
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traveling public to give himself enough time as they go through the entire travel experience. >> mr. fleischmann. >> thank you, madam chair for those questions. and mr. lajoye, for those answers. as a matter-of-fact those were my first group of questions. i'm reading from the screen, just need to have that -- last week it was announced that tsa is extending the mask requirements for travelers across all transportation networks through monday september 13. mr. lajoye, can you explain the factors that went into deciding on this extension, and why this date was chosen? and as a follow-up question, sir, what challenges have been encountered in the enforcement of this mandate and what actions has tsa taken as a result, sir? >> well, thank you, sir, for the
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question. since january this past year in keeping with president biden's executive order for the whole of government to focus on protecting the traveling public, we did mandate the requirement for surgical masks in all modes of transportation. and as we have approaching that deadline, worked very closely with cdc because the recommendations still remains at the best protect the traveling public, they use in the requirement for surgical masks contains to be that which is recommended from cdc. so that's the decision that went into extending the mandate. some of the chums with had, to date we've had about 2000 total incidents involving noncompliance of a mask. about 90% happening on board the aircraft. i can tell you that most of these that we are pursuing enforcement actions in the form of the warning order.
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we remind passengers placed the mask on but where we have one egregious violations, there have been arrests that it been made, and we have enforce civil penalties for especially egregious cases. that continues to remain a challenge for us. we have had outstanding partnership across aviation surface and airport partners in helping to enforce this mandate. we work very, very closely with the faa as well as the cdc in making sure that as we continue that we are keeping up with any updated guidance on the cdc, and begin the message for the traveling public is please adhere to the mask requirements. because it can result in a civil penalty or an really egregious cases will result in an assault on a flight crew, criminal penalties to include an arrest. >> well, very well handled.
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i can't see my clock, madam chair, so how much time do i left? >> used 112 minutes and 17 seconds -- you still have two minutes and 17 seconds. >> madam chair, also announced last week with the extension for real id compliance due to complications related to the covid-19 pandemic. this is the second extension on the enforcement of this requirement. first by a year from october 202010 october of 2021, and now i an additional 19 months until may of 2022. can you please explain the reasoning for the further extension and the status of this program to include the potential for additional extension? >> well, i think it really was an acknowledgment that the country is going through so much with covid-19 -- is going -- for much of this year deemed the
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officers were simply close and we really wanted to make sure the states could focus on their recovery efforts. we worked very, very closely across the industry. i made recommendations to the secretary, and by extending it we really do think we can come first, allow the states to focus on reopening their dnc's angle to get the traveling public the opportunity to really go out there and get real id compliant driver's licenses. presently about 45% or so is our analysis, 45% of the traveling public has a compliant real id. we really need that number to be closer to 90% without resulting in a fairly substantial operational impact the airports. so by extending it to may and 23 we really think we are providing ample for states recover and for travelers to get the opportunity to go and get that real id compliant id card. >> thank you very much. in closing, i want to thank you
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and your personal again. it's been a pleasure working with you and i appreciate your stepping up at this time. madam chair, without i will yield back. >> mr. cuellar. >> thank you, madam chair and ranking member, both of you all for your leadership. mr. lajoye, let me first of all also join the chairwoman in thanking you for the service that you all do. we all fly from somewhere. i fly from laredo, texas, and you have got got a great sey women working there. sometimes in san antonio. and you've got another great set of folks working there some want to thank the professionalism that your folks give the traveling public. i have two quick questions. one has to do as you know on the border we have what they call homeland calls nonessential, which are canadians but in this case let me talk about mexicans because i'm right at the border.
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if you want to cross from monterey into laredo to a land bridge, you are not allowed in even though over $19 billion has been spent by 18 million mexicans before the pandemic. but if you're a rich mix if you want to live in you can fly to houston. i assume all you do from what i understand is jack to see if there's a cover test that's negative. isn't that correct a what you all do it if somebody from mexico coming in, flying in, you just check a cover test and they're are able to walk in? >> well, i would have to get with cbpo with the protocols are at the land crossing your i'm not as with what cvb processes are as the cross our land border. >> i'm sorry. my question is at the airport. forget about the lan port or h is giving you a layout of the
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situation. but at the airport don't you just allow mexicans to come in with a negative covid test? >> we at tsa wouldn't be doing those checks when they arrived from mexico but again i could go back and see what some of the protocols are for specific countries. i will commit to getting back something specific on the record when i consult with cbp. >> thank you. the other question that i have is this, is in the past as you all are doing the automation there's a lot of equipment that you upgrade. and in the past some of that equipment we have suggested to some of your past tsa administrators is, can you use some of that surplus and maybe provide them surplus equipment under the law to may be local
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jails, local facilities, maybe other countries that might not have the equipment? the problem has been that you have those long maintenance contracts that a lot of the surplus was not being able, was not able to be used because of maintenance contracts. so, therefore, you in the past, your agency in the past, has stayed with the equipment and we are just paying a lot of money to store that equipment and still paying on the maintenance. could you provide us, the committee, whatever equipment you might have in surplus, what you are paying for storage, what you have, still paying on maintenance on any past generation of equipment? because as you know we are always try to get the best equipment which we support you, but i just want to see what are we doing with all that equipment
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that might be in surplus? >> absolutely, , sir. i will get all the information that you ask for and we will give you a full briefing on anything we currently have in surplus. again, we don't typically have much in the way of, like in property type technology. most of our equipment is fully deployed at airports, , but as e continue to deploy ct, more of the advanced technology at the airport, that is going to free up, you know, to your question, surplus equipment. what we have had very good in fulsome conversation with the state department because there may be a number of opportunities for us and our capacity to develop an effort because the replaceable in the world to cross interagency for how we could, in fact, donate equipment especially too much of the developing world. but i will certainly get back a very fulsome briefing on what we
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have and what we think we may be able to come to develop in the future. >> i think the committee would appreciate because anything we can donate to some other country, that would be good for them but i think it would be good for us also. thank you so much, and again i really mean this. you have a lot of good people working for you all and i appreciate it. receive and every week when the flood in. thank you, madam chair. thank you so much. thank you, mr. lajoye. >> thank you, sir. >> mr. rutherford. >> thank you, madam chair. and, mr. lajoye, i just want to echo what you heard from the other members here, particularly mr. cuellar just been. i tell you, i fly through jackson international airport regularly, and the men and women that you all have are doing a fantastic job, and i'm going to
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join the chairwoman in expressing our condolences to all of those members who you lost, and their families. if you would let them know, you know, we grieve with them and so we thank them for their duty and we thank them for their sacrifice. but i want to get back to something that was little before your time. well, i don't know if it was before your time with tsa, before your current position. the reimbursement -- systems at many of our airports put in right after 9/11. i can't believe we are still this many years after 9/11 still reimbursing those agencies or those airports for those capital
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investments. can you give me an idea, mr. lajoye, how much is being directed toward reimbursement this year and i think we're about to up what we ought to be able to just wipe that out for the remaining airports that have been completely reimbursed. can you give me those numbers, do you know them? >> i can speak general to the issue and certainly get more specific but it does vary airport by airport depending on what the exact project is. i think maybe you're familiar with, the aviation security capital punishment at $250 million, that has really never changed, , buying power, that isn't what it was what was initially authorized a lot of the airport have engaged in increased substantial upgrades to their entire baggage system. very, very different than what
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exists nearly 20 years ago. it really is, depends on the nature of the project that the airport is pursuing. small airports, everything in between so we can get back pretty fulsome briefing with specifically what that something airport by airport depending on the project. >> okay. you make a good point, you know, it is now time to regenerate that equipment in many locations i know. let me ask this on the cat. i think you said there was some talk about utilizing this. can you expand a little bit about how that's going to help us with no touch processing and is -- what's the rollout on
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that? >> yeah, that's a great question, and certainly would invite you and any of your colleagues over at reagan national airport where we've got this prototype. we did test cat two at dca towards the end of 2020. we are deployed that. we're doing for field testing at a number of locations around the country throughout this spring and fall and winter what cat two it's the next level in credential authentication technology. it incorporates as part of unit like glass shielding so it anticipates the continued need to have that shielding effect from covid-19. it also incorporates the camera. so it's massing in real time -- matching your image to the real id image. it's the next in seamless touchless travel. >> i actually had an opportunity at gia to look at that in operation and it was quite impressive. so congratulations on that.
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also if i could ask, i would look at that on an international points of exit, , departure, pot of departure? are we utilizing that abroad? >> i mean, overseas it's been a while since we've been overseas. have been able to travel. the use of cameras weather at border control station in the airport and/or at checkpoint is fairly, please. and maybe a little different than what we are intending here but generally speaking i think the entire world is going to realize we need to continue to promote technology that really does get it more seamless, more touchless travel to help facilitate how passengers, whether it's international within the country are certainly between countries. >> okay. madam chair, i think my time has run out. thank you, mr. lajoye, appreciate it.
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>> i yield back. >> mr. price. >> thank you, madam chair. administrator, thank you for your testimony, for your service. we appreciate your appearing before us today. you are will acquaint of course, we all are, with evidence that the rise of white supremacy and domestic extremism are the major terrorist threats that our country now faces. and, of course, that was underscored by the attempted insurrection on january sixth, the storming of the capital. you are probably aware that after that event occurred the head of the association of flight attendants, sara nelson,
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call for suspected perpetrators to be barred from flying siding that the pose a threat to the security of those on board. i know i and others have heard anecdotal reports from colleagues about what it was like, how frightening it was to be on flights with those perpetrators in the ensuing days. many were flying back to the district at the same time that the insurgents were flying and were in many cases menacing and pretty serious questions, whether those people should have been on board, and aircraft. so considering this, the present threat of domestic violence extremists, what is your assessment of where we are now, the adequacy of the list you're working with? are you satisfied we are borrowing from flight those who should be barred from flight? do you have any figures about whom you are denying boarding
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to? and the kind of communication you're having with your intelligence counterparts to ensure safety for all who pass through your custody? >> sir, like you, following the attack at the capital i i was horrified by what i saw, and certainly was concern for several days and weeks with some of the threats that i know you and your colleagues were facing. and we really did take pretty immediate steps, you know, under tsa we work very close with the fbi in all of our leading authorities. ember took immediate steps to ensure -- bedding authorities. at no point was anybody who took place the attack on the capital going to be a threat on board an aircraft. and again we worked very closely with the fbi. i'm very confident that we have all the authorities in place we
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need to continue to ensure that we can provide for that protection of the aircraft. and again in keeping with what you alluded to with the threats against members of congress, we immediately placed -- over capitol police can we want to know when members are traveling. we help facilitate member security both in the airport as well as on board those flights. we were going to keep that person in place over at the capital headquarters because it's important to know when members are flying. subsequent to the attack would also substantial increase in number of law enforcement presence at a checkpoint. we use our federal air marshals in uniform and we deploy them in a number of locations throughout the country to include the three airports here at the international capital region to i would certainly be willing to provide a more specific briefing
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in in a different setting if there's any specific information you need and figures. i'm certainly prepared to do that in a different setting. >> well, i did hear in formal reports. i expect we all did, about the immediate east of present at the checkpoints, and especially in the d.c. -- d.c. airports. it probably would be good at some point to have a more formal accounting of that response, then going forward, that's what really asking, are you satisfied going forward that the processes in place to identify these people who are quite willing obviously to be violent and do harm, quite willing? are you satisfied the process is in place to identify such people and barred him from flying? >> this remains a priority for the department, and again we work very, very closely within the department to include our
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intelligence officials, to include the fbi. i am very confident that are adequate processes in place to help protect the transportation system. very close partnerships with that at the highest level of the agency to ensure that continued partnership exists. daily interactions within the intel community to make sure have adequate information that we need to ensure the safety of the traveling public. so i'm very, very confident of the processes. >> thank you. thank you, madam chair. ms. henson. >> well, thank you, madam chair, and thank you, mr. lajoye, for appearing before us today. i really enjoy hearing about your testimony already. tsa work during the pandemic in the post intimate setting as well. today for the purpose of the searing and my question i would like to focus on the latter because we're beginning i work on the budget. can you talk about long-standing
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workforce challenges that the agency also wanted to follow-up alluded on the conversation you just had with our chairwoman asking about workforce challenges for the agency as well. so i which is a start, i'm asking how can congress and members of this committee better support job opportunities within tsa for young people just entering the skilled workforce right now? >> well, thank you for the question, and really we've had tremendous support. a lot of what we focus on, we were challenged to stay competitive in a number of cities before the pandemic. the average starting salary for a tso is summer between 16 and $20 an hour pixar authorities allow us to extend retention and cisco higher incentives and the work very closely with a number of of you and your colleagues staff that say hey come with opportunities to get the word out to come to work for tsa,
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please help in that effort that we've had tremendous success going back several months that a very robust public campaign to attract people to come to work for tsa. we do pay full-time health care benefits for part-time employees. employees. we offer tuition reimbursement. it's really about communicating all the different incentives that exist for those who come to work for tsa. the support that we have gotten from this committee on some of the tso pay incentives are key for us. just last week because of support we got from the committee we are able to give almost 32,000 tsa employees a pay raise. that's because of the funding we got as part of tso crew development and service pay. we have model offers a program that every quarter is recognizing with bonuses and pay raises the very best that tsa has to offer. answer these are all new programs that we have and would love to be able to work with you
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and your committee and staff to make sure that we are finding opportunities to communicate that to the traveling public. >> i think that's definitely good to know. your focus on merit and rewarding those who are working hard and obviously try to keep them engaged and a long-term member of the workforce with those incentives. the other question i would like to focus on today is about human trafficking concerns. last year obviously the tsa combined with department of homeland security broadly prioritizing human trafficking through prevention, protection, prosecution partnership. according to the website tsa conducted a survey that revealed that human trafficking happens in all modes of transportation, and so i guess my question today is what's happening at the border right now, human trafficking into a through the united states is up interstate 35 into iowa.
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definite growing concern for me. people are getting a planes as well. has your agency made any plans to ramp up officer training to help deal with these concerns? >> yes, ma'am. i can tell you that in the very first meeting i had with sector mayor cruz, this is something he highlighted as one of his priorities which is combating human trafficking. we do have required training for all tsa employees. we help provide veteran to our stakeholders across different modes. we've also placed tsa law enforcement in a number of key task force with our partners in law enforcement to include cbp and i.c.e. because in a number of cases i can get you specifics, last-minute request itineraries for anybody we thought maybe engaging in human trafficking, so having summary somebn those law enforcement task forces israel really keep helping investigate and prosecuting those who would practice human trafficking. >> i would certainly appreciate some additional follow-up on
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that, just kind of how your continued to government that and what your findings are as pure come across these incidents as potential human trafficking. my last question today is just what resources do you want members of coax to know your people need in order to combat human trafficking through our airports? >> i can come look forward to speaking specifics once this winter budget has been transmitted to congress. again, anything that we can do by way of training is very, very important for us as you pointed out. there are 2 million and as we continue to recover 2.5 think people that travel through a checkpoint every day, so our officers having adequate to be able to spot incidents of human trafficking, special in close partnership with our checkpoint law-enforcement officers we think is key. so your continued support for training and support we give to local would be important going forward. >> thank you, mr. lajoye, for your testimony today and thank
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you, madam chair, , probably phishing today and i yield back. >> mr. quigley. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you, sir, for being here. i remember when the pandemic first hit and we were coming to d.c. people felt we were courageous getting on planes. i guess nothing compared to your folks who were with thousands of people at a time so i commend their efforts and the really appreciate it. if you could give us a little more deep dive on the technology issues. i am hearing about ultraviolet lights in use on bands bie part of the process. i've heard about 3-d screening that i'm hearing piloted in new york. could you give us more information on that and it's possible rollout? >> absolutely, sir. to your first point about this pandemic and this will do is come has been an opportunity for us to work with a number small businesses. we are testing and fielding
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ultraviolet light that may help in checkpoint sanitization efforts. we have really had a number of key initiatives to get to the very best ideas we think may be out there could really help revolutionize what is needed at checkpoint by way of checkpoint sanitization we do have a couple locations around the country. dca was one of the more we look at a prototype for effectively a machine that runs i've been through it with ultraviolet light to help sanitize those bands. on the 3-d that really is getting at the computed tomography. we have currently 300 ct machines that event deployed around the country by the end of fiscal '21. we will purchase another 242, and what that allows officers to do is all in the machine, on a screen they can rotate the image, they can effectively conduct a bag search all on the screen without the need for a
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lot of things on their bag. so computer tomography, the ct machines i really key technology for us, not only from a security perspective, we're convinced this is the absolute best tool we can give our officers to mitigate security concerns, but also going to be important and oppose pandemic because fewer bag checks, , fewer items being pulled out of bags usually an effort to help promote touchless and seamless travel. the 3-d stuff really is the ct technology you are hearing so much about. >> and your rollout on that is tempered by the process of purchasing, if you have enough resources, or the training? is anything else that could expedite that process of incorporating it? >> well, i think all those things are factors we have to consider. again, we have 300 300 comeh
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about 99.7% deployed on the initial 300. we anticipate by the end of this fiscal year another 242 more ct machines being deployed and about 142 locations around the country. that's about 25%. we've got about 440 airports and 2500 or so lanes. all that is the building of the vendors to make the machines, our ability to test them and ramp up the training so we have made a lot of progress in both the last year and this year with support from the committee. so by the end of this year, 542 of those machines will have been procured. 300 which are already deployed after in the nation's airports. >> are you aware at all of the use of the world's busiest airport, which happens to be in my district, o'hare? >> i am. o'hare is one of the airports that has them.
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i believe we have got seven deployed. i'll check those numbers but i mean, they had them for a while. i spoke specific with the officers there. they love the technology. the passengers certainly appreciate fewer things having to come out of bags so we really do think this is key technology force. >> look, for me i believe that members obvious he may not all be aware of these possibilities, but as time goes on with what i want to know and i'm sure many want to know is if there's something else out there that not only provides additional security and/or protects the traveler and the tsa personnel, you know, we want to about it. if it's the possibility of additional resources that are necessary, we at least want to know if it's an option but appreciate your effort and moving forward on these particular choices. thank you and i yield back.
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>> mr. aguilar. >> thanks so much, madam chair. acting administrator, thanks for your testimony and like my cause i want to express my thanks to tsos who continue to serve as the essential workers during this pandemic and during this time, and my condolences to those you have lost. .. >> what will this look like in the next few years and what should be prepared to see when it comes to funding this priority? >> excellent question, sir. it's an especially appropriate question as tsa approaches our
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20th anniversary or 20 anniversary and following the attacks on september 11 checkpoint really were not designed with security in mind. we operate according to a mandate and federalize all the airports and really find ways to shoehorn in technology that will be an existing footprint. we've learned a lot in 20 years and that is informing, i think, what you will be seen over the next couple of years. the passengers, we already do know this, will expect the screening experience to look different and expect it to be different and we think that programs like topography and cat to are really going to be key investments for us to put a dent in it. it really will be a change in how people travel. cap too, it's a camera. it truly is, self sort of service if you will and then it
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is a camera that in real time can comparing your image to the images embedded in your drivers license. if you look at mobile drivers licenses, so many of us travel with our boarding pass on her mobile device where we really are the department recently went out with a request for information and we want to learn how can we explore this to be real id compliant and we wanted to make sure that with mobile drivers license from a cyber perspective it is secure and from a safety perspective it is safe in terms of privacy for individuals and obviously, as intended, do we have robust process as we can to flag identity fraud. we want to make sure that the person presenting is, in fact, who they say they are. you will see these things and see them in airports today and how do you tie those things together? much in the same way we protect baggage.
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the underlying infrastructure of an airport really will be key in all of this because we really think you're close with this technology to achieve what we currently do with tech baggage rather than moving passengers from, you know, for lanes to open lanes we can simply move images and it's an efficient way for officers to screen passengers. all these things are being currently tested in airports and so if i look forward for the next couple of years and continue priorities along tp, kept to a next-generation cat two i think that enhances ait will be important for us which is, you know the on person screening that obviates the need for passengers who have to raise their hands above their heads and you will see much more screening and it's what were seen currently in airports and i think it really is what the public will expect. >> i appreciate that. i wanted to ask briefly about
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retention and hiring in 2019 with iag issued regulations to help you recruit and retain tso's including approving surveys for those leaving. could you share how that progress is coming and how the pandemic is affected your ability to implement the recommendations that the ig gave. >> again, thank you for the question and we fully support the ig commendations and we warn learned a lot by talking with our workforce. when you look over the last four years and when you look at attrition over the last two years really we have seen improvement because 4% better during this pandemic in 2019 and if you look at the employee engagement it is the key indicators of part of a federal employee viewpoint survey and we seen almost a 12-point improvement in the last four years. when we talk to the workforce
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what we typically hear is the importance of pay which is really, again, the appreciation of the subcommittee for supporting a number of our key tso pain initiatives like tso service and it gave 32000 employees for the last two weeks a pay raise. model officer, these are recognizing the rewards for the very of tsa that as they achieve advanced training additional skills they will be recognized for that training and all of those are very important things that we hear from our workforce and really do think it's contributing to the positive impact that we are seen in our results and in the positive impact we are seen in attrition. >> thank you, mr. lajoye. i'm over my time so i will put a quarter in the jar and yield back. >> ms. underwood.
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miss underwood? she may have had to get off. that would end the first round. i would like to begin missus -- mr. lajoye, talking about the workforce and the fact that the administrator has talked of the past about the relatively low compensation provided to tso in achieving this is not commensurate with the training and technical skill and the response abilities of the job and contributes to recruitment and to tension -- retention
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challenges. legislation to address this problem the rights of the tsa workforce act have been reintroducing the 117th congress and over 150 cosponsors and as you know tsa workforce into the title v general schedule with pay and benefits. has tsa done or can it do an analysis on the cost associated with -- the pay system and is tsa believe that migrating your workforce to a geforce pay system would alleviate some of the challenges? >> thank you, madam chair. this is important and the administrator and important to the secretary and they are committed to looking at this issue and we are working very closely with the department to understand what those indications would be and what the pricing would be. we are aware of, you know, the
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bill that would propose moving tsa and we are providing technical drafting assistants and on that legislation and for us there's a couple of key irrespective of what ever the personnel system the tsa operates and needs to ensure at least what tsa employees would make compared to their colleagues in title v. we think it needs to strengthen and promote due process rights for our workforce and we need to strengthen and encourage collective bargaining and allow us to perform all agile security mission so we are committed to working both with senator thompson on his proposal and the department and looking at what those costs would be. cbo scored it several years ago around $1.8 million but even the cbo can see that there is room to look at that and as compared to in 2019 costs and so i think
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there was acknowledgment that how the workforce was classified and determining what those changes in cost would be but we are committed to working both with chairman thompson as well as the department to make sure we understand the location and the cost and any changes with tsa personnel system. >> i would imagine that would include an analysis of the cost savings that might be expected if you have retiring and retention associated with any improvements in efficiency. >> it would, madam chair. >> are there other steps you are considering to address -- and with those conditions required legislation or can tsa implement them administratively? >> i go back, madam chair, to the support we've gotten from the committee. with our authorities service pay, career progression and
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these are all key programs we think are helping to address, you know, tso pay. these are important things for us and again, i can't underscore the importance enough of 32000 employees in the last week getting anywhere from a one or 2% raise, depending on the length of service that they have in tsa. career progression. it allows up to 4500 eligible to get a 5% pay raise and it's all within our existing authorities and because of the support for the committee we are able to continue to fund these activities and also important for us that as we roll these programs out and i think to your question, a positive impact is it having on retention and recruitment efforts. >> congress repeatedly rejected requests by the previous administration to eliminate the visible prevention and response and the law enforcement officer reimbursement program known
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as. do know if the proposed illuminations were the result of any kinds of analysis of program performance or cost benefit and in your opinion, do these programs provide that? >> these are very important programs for tsa. in the past, it doesn't reflect any past steps were taken with respect to funding and it was, in no way, a level of the importance putting on the program but it simply will always be trade-offs in every budget. the reimbursable program is key for us and just last week it was down in san antonio where because of the actions of a brave police officer working overtime at the airport he prevented the shooting down there from becoming an even greater tragedy than it already was. i spoke previously about the importance of, not only in
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aviation but in service and these really are key programs for tsa. i'm confident that that is been communicated at the department as well as the administration that can be adequately reflected in future budgets but key programs for us and i'm confident the requirement has been listened to and heard by the department. >> thank you madam chair and mr. lajoye. it's been an outstanding substantive hearing. i want to address unmanned aerial systems that cause and continue to cause disruptions at many of our major airports across the country and to address this emerging threat tsa began the astonishment of a counter you a s testbed for detecting, identifying and monitoring and classifying you a s operating in the vicinity of
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airports. to support this effort the subcommittee appropriated an additional $3 million to expand the program. can you describe the status of this testbed as well as the progress of the expansion efforts? >> absolutely, sir. again, it's a great question. we too are seen a significant rise in the number of incidences involving a you a s. in here we characterize it in two different ways. reporting an incident. we get lots of reports daily about a sighting of a you a s and an incident is really something where the pilot in command of an aircraft needs to take invasion of action. racine increase in both of those into your point this continues to be something that really is across the inter- agencies to look at and as you noted, miami was the first testbed and just
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this week we've announced at lax, los angeles international airport, will be the second testbed. it's a 3 million-dollar that the committee gave in 2021 and will be mammy as the first and lax we announced this week will be the second testbed for counter eua as activities. >> thank you, sir. in fiscal 2020 tsa increased its engagement and outreach and obligated over $500 million to small businesses. the largest obligation amount in tsa history. as we all no, small businesses have taken more than their fair challenges throughout this pandemic. can you kindly describe tsa's effort with small business outreach in fiscal 21 and beyond and how your procurement strategies have changed as a result, sir. >> yes, sir. tsa for the first time ever exceeded all her goals and are five goals for small business
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and 500 summary $6 million that was awarded to small businesses and i cannot underscore enough how important small businesses were to our response to covid-19 and whether it was hand sanitizer or a variety of ppp, small businesses played a very key role in our ability in deploying plastic shielding through out the airports and so again can't underscore enough how important they were and helping protect our officers and the traveling public in response to covid-19. we want to expand on that success working very closely within dhs, s&p and working very closely with the number of venture capital firms to find ways to you know, solicit support from small businesses. how can we put our requirements out there to small businesses? broad agency announcement is an
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opportunity for us to hear from small business and how can we help develop their processes to meet the government's needs. we have a number of priorities where we will buy, testing and we will buy demonstration that we understand what they have to offer so all these things we think are an effort to help grow and expand on the success we had last year in promoting small business. >> yes, sir. thank you for your service and your answers to these questions today. in an interest of time madam chair, other folks want to ask questions in round two and i would go back and i thank you thank you, madam chair. i would like to ask you to return for a moment to tsa response ability for surface transportation and he referred to this a minute ago but i would like to ask you to elaborate.
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this, of course, includes passenger rail and maritime systems and its contrast with the aviation system and that the service transportation systems, especially public transit, are far more open and more easily accessible and they are more exposed therefore to potential terrorist threats, including less sophisticated attacks that involve fewer numbers of people, less planning and so forth. also, unlike the aviation system transportation services operators are themselves directly responsible for their own security and tsa is offering assistance advice best practices and so forth. you do have many initiatives that i and other sub duty members help prepare and train transportation to observe and respond to threats and incidents. this includes the viper program
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that you mentioned and collaboration with the intercity bus security grant system. last march tsa issued a final rule requiring certain higher risk transportation systems to provide tsa approved higher security training for certain employees which has affected railroad, public transportation systems and over the road buses. then came the pandemic that changed the course of many things but i wonder if you could update us about where this stands now. could you provide an update on them limitation of this new rule? are you able to share any information with the subcommittee about how well the trainings are going in other activities that you have underway? >> thank you for the question, sir. sometimes highlighting the importance of service transportation to purity and what we do. as you noted, the surface training rule, like a lot of
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other things that tsa in the industry has done has been impacted by the pandemic. we simply found that a number when we talk often about, you know, how much of an impact to pendant had on aviation workers and the impact has been just as severe in service operators as well. they really were challenged to implement the rule so we worked very closely where it was appropriate to provide flex ability and extensions and implement the rule. i think we are still making progress on that and we come back from the pandemic racine incremental progress against the surface training rule and i guess i don't have any real concerns on the industry's ability to meet that requirement. it really was just impacted by this pandemic. now, generally speaking, you also highlight the real differences in surface as opposed to aviation from a
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regulatory framework and it is more open and there is a much less rigid regulatory, you know framework in place so we really do prioritize enhancing our cyber abilities because we know a number of these operators focus pretty extensively on industrial control systems so our ability to provide expert cyber assessments for inner cities we think is really important in their mitigation strategies. being able to again, focus on revelatory enforcement we have the new training rule and we certainly over the last four months have been focused on the mask requirements within service operations so continue to focus on regulatory enforcement role and then lastly we want to use existing tsa pie forms to get better analytics and we learned a lot in aviation and we wanted to get better on service of the bee can help them better understand where there are trends and where we may be able
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to prioritize from our assessment that we can provide to some of these operators. >> alright, thank you. that's a good overview as we prepare the transcript on today's hearing and looked towards the budget but i think it would be help legal if you formalize this a bit. whatever facts and figures you could provide us on with the implementation role in the future plans that would help because this is not well-known and it's the first time today, for example, it has come up in this role with the surface transportation situation for the agency has been in respect to these plans were modified somewhat but they are back on track and anything you want to add with respect to that i think the committee would appreciate. >> yes, sir. absolutely.
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>> mr. rutherford. >> thank you. mr. lajoye, the tsa modernization act was passed three years ago and required tsa to employ capabilities that allow travelers to enroll in pre- check using mobile technologies and it is my understanding that one of the major hurdles we run into in accomplishing that is the gathering of applicant's fingerprints which are necessary to run the background check obviously but i wonder for tsa to deploy mobile enrollment technologies it is my understanding that tsa first needs approval from the fbi to deploy biometric capturing
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technology that will enable travelers then to submit fingerprints to the tsa as part of their application for the pre- check. could you talk a little bit about the timetables that the fbi is committed to and in the discussions with tsa to accomplish this ability and to register for pre- check through mobile devices and send in your fingerprints. >> yeah. yes, sir. i think it is the ability for the fbi to do it. to your point, we are working closely on a process that would be mis- certified and giving the fbi electronically, mobley if you will, to capture the finger print but you're right but we want to expand on the number of
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pre- check providers and we want to make sure that it is an open, transparent, competitive process, all of which is designed to bring the price down pre- check traveler and bring those numbers up and we are working closely with the fbi on that process and i do think it's going to take a couple of years for us to do that and just given the inherent challenges in making sure that you have a process that is safe, secure and allows the fbi to adequately capture the fingerprint in electronic means. we could get back a specific briefing on what we think those timelines are working with the fbi and i do think it will take a number of years where we have the capability to do that. >> i bring that up because i want to make sure that you know in our funding that we are able to assist you on that because i think that will be very important and i really haven't
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heard any talk about what those means are specifically. so, i would be interested to see that as the budget comes out. second thing i want to say something that happened during the pandemic that a lot of people because it happened at the very beginning a lot of people didn't know or i think really appreciate the burden that was placed on tsa and helping to repatriate so many americans who were scattered across the globe and, no, something north of 100,000 americans get back home and i can tell you i am amazed at my
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district and i had no idea many people from my district were scattered in some very remote locations around the globe and, you know, they are doing great work to let me come back home when the pandemic hit and tsa was just an amazing partner in helping my office get my people back home. i want to say thank you for that. i know we've got a lot of the accolades but i know you guys in the state department did a lot of the work so thank you for that. madam chair, i see my time has ended and i will yield back. >> mr. aguilar. >> thank you, madam chair. acting administrator, just wanted to ask you a couple of questions on something that came
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up in your verbal testimony. you mentioned that twice as many firearms were seized in 2020 as compared to 2019 and that is the highest in the 19 year history of your agency and he said the majority of them were loaded and could you talk to me a little bit about why you think that is happening and you talk about some educational opportunities and some of the efforts that you are undertaking to give people the correct information about their inability to carry firearms. >> well, yeah, it really is interesting question about why we think it is happening. there are a number of, we've seen a number of things during the pandemic that cause us concern. i know that the faa spoke publicly about their efforts and
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its zero-tolerance policy about the dramatic increase in assaults on flight crews. we are certainly seeing those incidences increase and i think a lot of people have not been used to traveling bird friendly, they might not be as informed on how properly to transport a firearm but just for perspective the last week of april we had 120 firearms that we stopped at our checkpoint from getting on board an aircraft and in one day alone 32 of them, again, these are a public safety concern because as i pointed out 80% are loaded and they are often thrown in the bottom of the bag and the excuse is generally we get most often is they simply forgot it was in there and so really what we've been focusing on is not only our regulatory enforcement response abilities to make sure that we are pursuing progressive
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enforcement actions against anybody who would be illegal to bring a firearm to the checkpoint but how can we help educate the traveling public to properly player a firearm for checked baggage and how can we direct them to state and local jurisdictions because different states, different cities have different laws in place with your. >> to firearms one of the things we did is to help the velocity and it was a glossy that we developed and how to properly educate the driving public in our federal director across the country are working closely with our state and local partners to get this two gun clubs and working very closely with u.s. attorneys to make sure the necessity we can bring prosecutions for some of these individuals. the number of repeat offenders is exceedingly low. we really do think the education can go a long way towards mitigating these numbers but it continues to be a concern.
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we work closely with our airport partners and in this regard and i think it will be a continued focus for our public safety perspective. >> how much discretion is used when it comes to the civil fines that could be imposed by the agency for first-time offenders? >> depends on the nature, sir. if they are aggravating factors that exist and that would tend toward the upper limits of what that civil penalty may look like but it really all depends on other aggravating factors that are present and we have looked internally and what those things are and so depending on the circumstances that would dictate what the potential civil penalty may look like. >> i appreciate the answers. as someone who flies incredibly often and far distances i appreciate the work you folks are doing to that these out but also i think clearly shows that there are a lot more we can do
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and so i appreciate your efforts. thank you, madam chair and i yield back. >> i don't believe there are any more questions so with that mr. lajoye, i want to thank you for your time and the subcommittee on homeland security stands adjourned. >> and you madam chair. thank you numbers of the subcommittee. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more, including comcast.
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